“First Blood” Celebration by Esther Nelson

This semester I’m teaching a course titled “The Abrahamic Traditions: Women and Society.”  Because I believe story is one of the best ways to understand a point of view, I use a novel or memoir to accompany each tradition. The novel I use in the Judaism unit is Anita Diamant’s, The Red Tent.

The Red Tent focuses on Dinah, Leah and Jacob’s daughter.  Early in the novel, the narrator says, “My name [Dinah] means nothing to you.  My memory is dust….The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men who had no way of knowing.”

The biblical account (Genesis 34) tells us that Shechem, King Hamor’s son, “seized her [Dinah] and lay with her by force.”  It also says that Shechem’s “soul was drawn to Dinah” and “he loved the girl,” and insisted that his father arrange things so Dinah could be his wife.  Nowhere in the biblical account do we hear Dinah’s voice. She’s portrayed as a victim and used as a bartering tool by Jacob and his sons in their attempt to gain power in the region.  Jacob and his sons required that Hamor and all the men within his kingdom be circumcised as a condition for the marriage between Dinah and Shechem.  King Hamor agreed, but on the third day after the men were circumcised and in pain, Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob’s sons, entered the city “and killed all the males,” for “defiling” their sister.  “Should our sister be treated like a whore?” Dinah then disappears from the narrative.

Continue reading ““First Blood” Celebration by Esther Nelson”

Remembering Ginny by Esther Nelson

My husband’s stepmother, Ginny, died last week.  She lived several months past her 97th birthday.  Here is her obituary.

Ginny shared her life with three husbands, outliving each one.  Three sons were born from her first union.  She then married John, my husband’s father, and warmly welcomed us (John’s family) into her life.  When John died, Ginny married Fred.  After Fred’s death, Ginny told me, “Of all my husbands, Fred was my favorite. He was fun.”

Ginny lived at the Brethren Village Retirement Community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania—a home with several levels of care—for over 30 years, moving there a few years after marrying my father-in-law.  She said, “We made a good decision.  I never wanted to be a financial burden on my children.”  And she wasn’t.

Throughout her life, Ginny attended a fundamental, evangelical church.  Had she been able to vote in the 2016 national election, she would no doubt have voted Republican.  She had no use for feminism (women who rail against God’s ordained order), liberalism (the Devil’s message), homosexuality (perversion of God’s perfect creation) and immigrants (they siphon resources from hard-working Americans).

Yet, at the same time, Ginny was generous, giving to causes that fit with her ideological worldview such as missions.  It was important to her that people come to understand the “truth” as seen through the prism of the theology she embraced.  Within her community, she was loving, actively engaged, and caring, helping people in practical ways—donating food and other necessities to organizations sponsored by her church.

Continue reading “Remembering Ginny by Esther Nelson”

Ancestor Connection Revisited: Anna M. Christ of Little Germany, Brooklyn by Carol P. Christ

carol-christThese days I can’t get my 2x great-grandmother Anna Maria Christ off my mind.  She may be the independent female ancestor I have been looking for all these years.

My father’s father was transferred from New York to San Francisco during the depression. When I moved to New York City, I felt powerfully connected to its diverse immigrant culture, but I never thought of trying to figure out where and when my ancestors lived there.

Recently I found my Scottish and Irish 2x great-grandparents, James Inglis, the seaman, and Annie Corliss, mother of 9, living in the tenements on Cherry Street near the port of New York.  These were my father’s ancestors on his mother’s side.  I felt inspired by a photograph of Annie to take her Irish spirit of triumph over adversity into my soul.

Because it has become fashionable to be interested in things Irish, I began my ancestor research there.  In fact, I am more German (3/8) than I am Irish (3/16).  As I have delved into my German ancestry, I realized that being German became a cause for shame in both the First and Second World Wars.  German language newspapers were banned, Germans were interned, people hated Germans, and many Germans changed their names.

As a child I learned to create mock battles against “krauts,” Continue reading “Ancestor Connection Revisited: Anna M. Christ of Little Germany, Brooklyn by Carol P. Christ”

Feminist Theologies: Past, Present, and Future by Gina Messina-Dysert

I had the great honor to be a part of the Feminist Theologies: Past, Present, and Future panel on February 7, 2012 to celebrate The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theology.  I presented with some feminist foremothers who have had a tremendous impact on me and my feminist ideals.  To say it was a wonderful experience would be a complete understatement.

Below is the talk I shared at the conference.  It focuses on my personal experience with feminist theology, the Feminism and Religion project, and how digital print will shape the future of feminist theology.  A very special thanks to John Erickson for organizing this important event.

It is truly a pleasure to be here today to celebrate the publication of The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theology.  Certainly a foundational text that will be instrumental in moving the field of feminist theology forward by connecting feminists from different cultural and geographical backgrounds to discuss women and religion in a globalized world. Continue reading “Feminist Theologies: Past, Present, and Future by Gina Messina-Dysert”

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